Book Review – A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

a memory called empireAmbassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident–or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion–all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret–one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life–or rescue it from annihilation.

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My rating: Cyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starNo-Star

I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

A Memory Called Empire is sci fi as I feel sci fi should be – challenging the current state of the real world but doing so in an utterly alien setting. It’s part murder mystery (though really that’s never the point) and part political thriller – both genres I really enjoy – all set in a sci fi world. Lovely!

I did have some problems with pacing, exacerbated by the poor formatting of the e-ARC I received, sadly. First each chapter starts with two excerpts of things relevant to the books from outside what Mahit could know, and I sometimes found they jolted me out of the story – though some of this was down to the formatting as I didn’t always realise I was at one of those sections! And the second was that the poetry really suffered at the hands of the formatting. And poetry is really not my favourite thing anyways, for all that it is a genius plot device used here. I love how it’s used, but very much struggled to read it.

Aside from that, I really loved how clear the differences in culture were from Mahit’s perspective – planet vs ship life; being seen as a barbarian; having a good understanding of culture and language turn into “oh god it’s so much more complicated than I thought”. And the names were just brilliant.

The politics themselves were nuanced and well thought out, and made me reflect on several things in the real world, without being pointed on any one topic. The latter half of the book is especially strong because of this, and there’s definitely a good reason to pick up the second book for more on this.

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Buy A Memory Called Empire from Amazon UK.

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